Data Corner — Children under 5
By Natalie Powers, Child Welfare Program Administrator
Children under the age of 5 comprise the largest demographic group of children entering foster care. This is true both nationally and here in Alaska.
Currently 720, or nearly 40 percent, of the Alaskan children in foster care today are under the age of 5; 62 percent of the children in this age group have an identified permanent placement, a slight decrease from last year.
Due to the rapid neurological development during the first phase of life, children in early childhood are particularly vulnerable to exposure to maltreatment and the compounded trauma they are exposed to by virtue of entering the child welfare system.
What is OCS doing to address the developmental needs, promote well-being and expedite permanency for children in this age group?
- Summer/Fall 2013: Staff will be trained on the developmental impact of trauma on children, how to screen for trauma and how to develop a case plan tailored to the child’s needs.
- During the April 2013 Early Childhood Mental Health Institute Conference in Anchorage, a full-day training was provided to Resource Families on the developing brain; sensory processing and regulation; early mental health; and managing behavior.
OCS is focused on the early identification and documentation of relatives to increase permanency for children if they are not able to return home. Children with three or fewer documented relatives are less likely to be in a permanent placement than children where multiple maternal and paternal relatives are identified.